From the day we are born we ageing. Do you ever wonder why when we are younger we can’t wait to be older and when we are older we want to be younger?
What is it about ageing that causes us anxiety?
Sometimes we might regret decisions we made or feel like we don’t have enough time left to follow our dreams. Is your life not going in the direction you would have hoped it was? Are you scared of getting ill and not being able to do what you normally do? Do you hope you would be in a different place than you are now? If you find yourself asking some of these questions, this could be a time to explore what may be causing anxiety for you.
Adjusting to Change
This might be especially true if you find yourself experiencing panic or anxiety, engaging in unhelpful behaviours or comparing yourself to others. Sometimes this might come up for us if we’re at that age where everyone around is getting married and settling down, if friends have emigrated and your finding it hard to meet new friends as you grow older, or if family getting older and your caring for them. Anytime we’re going through a period of change this bring up the idea of ageing for us.
Sometimes therapy can be a useful tool for us work through some of the thoughts that make come up as we adjust to different stages in life or coming to terms with our loss of what we thought life would be like for us. Counselling can help you look at your experiences in the past and heal from the suffering.
Sometimes we just don’t always have words to explain how we feel. It can be useful to think of it like the Ocean. Some days it hits us like a tsunami with a wave of emotions all at the one time, anger, sadness, stress, depression, intensity. Other days the ocean is calm and peaceful.
Therapy can give you tools to help you deal with your anxiety:
- Process your emotions around ageing.
- Explore your behaviour and how it impacts your day to day life. For example: monitoring your news intake, cutting down on using “doctor google”, what your reading.
- Observing past experiences and what influences they have on today.
- Nature versus nurture.
- Mindfulness practices to help you become more present.
- Stop minimizing your pain.
- Different techniques to let go.
Inevitably we all age, our view of ageing that changes how we cope with it:
“It is lovely to meet an old person whose face is deeply lined, a face that has been deeply inhabited, to look in the eyes and find light there.”
― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Embrace the Change
Trying to embrace ageing rather than fighting is a process which takes compassion, time, flexibility which is offered in counselling in a non-judgemental environment. Different experiences can trigger ageing anxiety, social media, the pandemic, death of a loved one, life changing decisions, moving home, a divorce, marriage, children, a divide in the family, illness etc.
Remember the positives
While it’s not always easy to remember, there are pros and cons with every situation. So while there might be some parts you might miss as you exit one chapter of your life, there will be other positives or benefits that come from transitioning into your new stage of life.
All of these can change our perspective on life. This can leave us feeling puzzled and confused. In therapy we can assist you to put the pieces back together and maybe see a clearer picture.
Limit Social Media
Have you noticed recently how social media and other companies promote anti-ageing? Anti-wrinkle creams, collagen, botox, etc. What message is this sending to us about ageing? Make up companies promoting make up that will give us a face lift? What are we buying into and what’s this doing to society? This indicates a message to try and reverse ageing, which is impossible. Is it any wonder we are getting anxious about ageing if this is the message advertising is promoting not to be who you are. The expectation to be something other than who you are is going to lead us down a path of insecurity, anxiety and today’s social media tends to promote this rather than encourage growing old gracefully.
While experiencing anxiety as we transition into older ages is part of the normal experience, remember that you don’t have to go through it alone.
If you’d like to avail of counselling to cope with anxiety, you can book an appointment by calling 01 611 1719 or by emailing [email protected]
Written by Deirdre NcGill